Trio of key starters for Atlanta in SCLN

ATLANTA – It’s been 20 years since the Braves played their last World Series. But a year after advancing to Game 7 of the NL Championship Series, they look better positioned to make the Fall Classic than at any time since Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were in the clubhouse.

Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson are not in the same category as the trio of Hall of Famers mentioned above, but they have grown into a formidable group. They form the basis of a rotation that is significantly better than the one Atlanta used to nearly reach the World Series in 2020, something they haven’t accomplished since 1999.

“I think we’re in a better position this year,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Last year we were basically gluing pieces all year, and now we have three very good, war-tested guys.”

While winning three of four games against the Brewers in the NL Division Series, Fried, Morton and Anderson combined to allow four runs in 20.1 innings. They all went to Morton’s account. The successful and experienced postseason pitcher allowed a decisive two-stripe home run by Rowdy Tellez in the seventh inning of Game 1 and a pair of stripes in the fourth inning of Game 4, which he pitched on fewer days off than usual.

The Braves threw a shutout in four of five games in the first two rounds of last postseason against the Reds and the Marlins, respectively. What’s more impressive is that they did it with Fried, Anderson and Kyle Wright as their top three pitchers – none of them had made any playoff starts.

Fried established himself as a starter in the majors in 2019 and carried most of the load after Mike Soroka injured his Achilles tendon last year. Anderson started the postseason with a total of six starts after making his major league debut on Aug. 26, 2020. As for Wright, he had completed five innings in just half of his eight starts this season.

This year, the Braves have a more experienced Fried, after posting the best ERA in the majors at 1.74 after the All-Star Game. The left-hander allowed three or fewer runs in three of his four outings in the 2020 postseason and pitched six scoreless innings in an SDLN Game 2 victory over the Brewers last Saturday.

Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the playoffs in recent years. He has a 2.53 ERA in his last 12 appearances this time (11 starts).

For his part, Anderson was unaffected by inexperience, throwing 17.2 blank stages before finally allowing his first postseason run in Game 7 of the SCLN last year. He worked five blank innings Monday in the Game 3 win over the Brewers.

“We feel good going into this year’s SCLN, regardless of the opponent,” said Braves wide receiver Travis d’Arnaud. “We have a great pitching staff. Big three on the mound. Wow, they are all excellent. “